In a historic moment for Nigerian telecoms, MTN Nigeria has today officially turned on its fifth-generation (5G) mobile internet services at 190 sites across the West African country, with the main concentration of sites in Lagos and Abuja, according to BusinessDay.
Some users in these areas are reportedly already experiencing internet speeds greater than 1.4GBs per second. The country’s National Communication Commission (NCC) had previously set Wednesday 24 August as the date for the rollout of 5G after nearly 3 years of preparation from the Federal Government.
Nigeria now joins South Africa and Kenya as the three African nations to launch 5G services. South Africa received 5G first in 2019 through a humble rollout by provider Rain, while Kenya saw Safaricom launch its first 5G services in March 2021. In the rest of the continent, Ghana and Egypt are hot on the heels of these three nations, expecting a rollout sooner rather than later.
Nigeria’s 5G deployment has lagged compared to contemporary economies due to regulations and a bloated spectrum auctioning approval processes. In July 2021, Nigerians were still waiting on the Federal Government to approve the technology’s deployment even as the NCC claimed it was ready for the rollout.
While MTN has managed to launch its 5G per the scheduled time, Mafab has reportedly been given a five-month extension for its rollout of 5G in the country. Both MTN and Mafab had to pay a combined $550-million for licenses as early as February.
By October, MTN Nigeria expects to increase the rollout of 5G sites exponentially, taking the superfast internet to 500 – 600 more sites across Africa’s most populous nation.
Not every user will be able to use 5G as of today, however, as certain software updates are required by mobile devices, other devices may not be able to use the service at all.
BusinessDay speculates that Nigerian Samsung and Apple users may only be able to take advantage of 5G services after 6 weeks (Samsung) or even after October (Apple) as manufacturers will need to deliver their respective upgrades.